The State Attorney General's Office wants to alert consumers about accessibility of military records.
Recently, the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection, and the Montana Army National Guard have been made aware of several companies who charge a fee to procure military personnel records.
AG Tim Fox said in a release, "Military customers need to know these records are free to request and cost nothing to acquire from the government."
Online companies are claiming to be expediters, who say they will speed up the process of acquiring service members documents such as discharge papers or DD214's.
Dawn Githens, Director of the Military and Veterans Success Center at MSU Billings said most the people who come in to their center are looking for assistance navigating the services and documents available to them.
"It can be very convoluted and confusing for a lot of folks that either just got out or have been out for a while and maybe a lot of the systems have changed since they got out, which is the majority of people that don't know how to find their documents is when they were there they had an office to go to, and that office doesn't exist anymore so they get confused and how do I get access to this information," said Githens.
These advertisements and websites may show up first on internet searches like, "How to get discharge papers," and service members may believe those first services are the only way to get their documents according to the Attorney General's Office.
Githens said if a service member of their family are looking for discharge documents or a DD214, they can be requested quickly and for no cost.
She added, staff at the Military and Veterans Success Center, along with the Montana VA at MSU Billings are happy to show service members and their families how to access their documents.
According to the Attorney General's Office, many military service records are available for free through the milConnect website. The DD214 can also be acquired by mailing or faxing a Standard Form “SF 180” to the National Personnel Records Center or the servicing personnel office, such as the Montana Army National Guard G1 Retirement Services Office, which can be reached at 406-324-3084.
Detailed instructions on how to request your service records are available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website: https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/.
You can also call the Office of Consumer Protection in Helena at 1-800-481-6896 with any questions about businesses advertising DD214 services or how to access milConnect’s record request service.